Resellers slam black market in Microsoft software

The problem of fake copies of Microsoft products in the channel is getting worse, warn software resellers

Microsoft's UK partners are increasingly concerned about the amount of counterfeit and unlicensed software being sold in the UK reseller channel, which they say is threatening the reseller industry at large.

Fake copies of Microsoft software are most commonly distributed because it has such a vast user base and is easier to sell on, they warned this week.

One reseller revealed the problem had got out of hand and was undercutting his business. "Microsoft piracy is still huge out there, I know one reseller who was offered Microsoft Small Business Server for £50 a piece. Microsoft should spend more time trying to cut down on the amount of illegal software out there," he told ZDNet UK.

The reseller channel has taken a hit in recent years from a prolific black market, particularly in Microsoft software. Karen Dallyn, Microsoft partner manager at reseller Lynx Technology, said educating businesses was the only way to combat the problem.

"If people continue to buy illegal software then the software vendors cannot afford to invest in the products and this has a knock on effect on resellers," said Dallyn.

Dallyn explained that customers have been giving her price comparisons which must be derived from an illegal source. "Microsoft could provide some kind of general awareness of piracy to help educate businesses," she said.

Microsoft admitted that piracy of its software was a huge problem and that it was committed to tackling the problem. "Customers, businesses and resellers continually ask Microsoft for help in mitigating the threat posed by counterfeit software. In July 2005 Microsoft launched Windows Genuine Advantage 1.0 (WGA) with worldwide availability," said a Microsoft spokesperson.

"WGA is part of Microsoft's ongoing commitment to protecting its customers from software counterfeiting and to helping support partners through education, engineering and enforcement of policies and laws," he added.

However, one researcher claimed back in May that circumventing WGA was a simple task.

A report published in July found that Microsoft was the only computing brand in the top ten of the world's most counterfeited brands.

According to the Business Software Alliance, unlicensed software use in the UK costs national and international software publishers over £1bn a year.